The Apple III (often rendered as Apple ///) is a business-oriented personal computer produced and released by Apple Computer that was intended as the successor to the Apple II series, but largely considered a failure in the market. Development work on the Apple III started in late 1978 under the guidance of Dr. Wendell Sander. The machine was first announced and released on May 19, 1980, but due to serious stability issues that required a design overhaul and a recall of existing machines, it was formally reintroduced the following autumn. Development stopped and the Apple III was discontinued on April 24, 1984, and the III Plus was dropped from the Apple product line in September 1985.
The Apple III could be viewed as an enhanced Apple II – then the newest heir to a line of 8-bit machines dating back to 1976. However, the Apple III was not part of the Apple II line, but rather a close cousin. The key features business users wanted in a personal computer were a true typewriter-style upper/lowercase keyboard (as opposed to the Apple II which was based on a teletype keyboard) and 80 column display. In addition, the machine had to pass U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) qualifications for business equipment. In 1981, International Business Machines unveiled the IBM Personal Computer (IBM PC) – a completely new 16-bit design soon available in a wide range of inexpensive clones. The business market moved rapidly towards the PC-DOS/MS-DOS platform, eventually pulling away from the Apple 8-bit computer line.
Despite numerous stability issues and recalls, Apple was eventually able to produce a reliable and dependable version of the machine. However, damage to the computer's reputation had already been done and it failed to do well commercially as a direct result. In the end, an estimated 65,000–75,000 Apple III computers were sold. The Apple III Plus brought this up to ~120,000. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak stated that the primary reason for the Apple III's failure was that the system was designed by Apple's marketing department, unlike Apple's previous engineering-driven projects. The Apple III's failure led to Apple reevaluating their plan to phase out the Apple II, and eventual continuation of development of the older machine. As a result, later Apple II models incorporated some hardware, such as the Apple Scribe Printer, a thermal printer, and software technologies of the Apple III.
The Apple III was designed to be a business computer and an eventual successor for the Apple II. While the Apple II contributed to the inspirations of several important business products, such as VisiCalc, Multiplan and Apple Writer, the computer's hardware architecture, operating system and developer environment were limited. The Apple III addressed these weaknesses.
The Apple III was powered by a 1.8 MHz Synertek 6502A or B 8-bit CPU and, like some of the more advanced machines in the Apple II family, used bank switching techniques to address up to 256 KB of memory. Third-party vendors also produced memory upgrade kits that allowed the Apple III to reach up to 512 KB. Other Apple III built-in features included an 80-column display with upper and lowercase characters, a numeric keypad, dual-speed (pressure sensitive) cursor control keys, 6-bit (DAC) audio, 16-color high-resolution graphics, and a built-in 140 KB 5.25" floppy disk drive. Unlike the Apple II, the Disk III controller was built into the logic board.
The Apple III was the first Apple product that allowed the user to choose both a screen font and a keyboard layout: either QWERTY or Dvorak. These choices could not be changed while programs were running, unlike the Apple IIc, which had a keyboard switch directly above the keyboard, allowing switching on the fly.
For a variety of reasons, the Apple III was a commercial failure. With a starting price between $4,340 to $7,800 US, it was more expensive than many of the CP/M-based business computers that were available at the time. The Apple III's software library was very limited, and while sold as Apple II compatible, the emulation that made this possible was intentionally hobbled; thus it could not make use of the advanced III features (specifically 64 KB RAM or higher, required by a large number of Apple II software titles based on PASCAL), which limited its usefulness.
Browsing the Collection
There is only one image in this collection (the Apple 3 Apple 2 Emulation Disk).